Collage of Latin America and library images

Latin American & Caribbean Studies
Autumn 2021 Courses


  • Courses are listed in numerical order by the LACS course number.
  • Cross-lists are noted in parentheses.
  • All courses listed here count toward the LACS Major/Minor course requirements, unless otherwise indicated.
  • Courses that count for the foundational course requirement of the LACS Graduate Certificate are noted with [F] following the course title.
  • Numbering guide:
    • 10000: General education and introductory
    • 20000: Intermediate or advanced undergraduate
    • 30000, 40000, 50000+: Graduate or professional school
    • 20000/30000: Mixed undergraduate/graduate

LACS 11008 Introduction to Latinx Literature
LACS 12200 Portuguese for Spanish Speakers
*NEW*LACS 12220 Kreyol for Speakers of French I
LACS 16100/34600 Introduction to Latin American Civilizations I [F]
LACS 21001 Human Rights: Contemporary Issues
LACS 23517/33517 Music of the Caribbean
LACS 25003 Immigration, Law, and Society
LACS 25005/35005 The Amazon: Literature, Culture, Environment [F]
*NEW*LACS 25662 Archiving AIDS: Art, Literature, Theory
LACS 26212/36212 Witches, Sinners, and Saints
LACS 26384 Art and the Archive in Greater Latin America
LACS 26509/36509 Law and Citizenship in Latin America [F]
*NEW*LACS 27724/37724 Making States and Nations: Art and Material Culutre in Latin America, ca. 1800-1880
LACS 28498 Women, Development and Politics
LACS 29202 Cuba
LACS 29700 Reading/Research: Latin American Studies
LACS 29801 BA Colloquium: Latin American Studies
LACS 29900 Prep BA Essay: Latin American Studies
LACS 40100 Reading/Research: Latin American Studies
LACS 41203 Political Regimes and Transitions
LACS 48700 Crime, Conflict and the State
LACS 60000 Colloquium: Latin American Historiography, 19th-21st Century


Introduction to Latinx Literature

LACS 11008 (ENGL 11008, SPAN 21008, CMLT 11008)
Rachel Galvin
TR 12:30–3:20 PM

From the activist literature of the Chicano Civil Rights Movement to contemporary fiction and poetry, this course explores the forms, aesthetics, and political engagements of U.S. Latinx literature in the 20th and 21st centuries. Theoretical readings are drawn from Chicanx Studies, Latinx Studies, American Studies, Latin American Studies, Hemispheric Studies, Indigenous Studies, and Postcolonial Studies, as we explore Latinx literature in the context of current debates about globalization, neoliberalism, and U.S. foreign policy; Latinx literature's response to technological and socio-political changes and its engagement with race, gender, sexuality, class, and labor; and its dialogues with indigenous, Latin American, North American, and European literatures. (Poetry, 1830-1940, Theory)


Portuguese for Spanish Speakers

LACS 12200 (PORT 12200)
Alan Parma
MWF 12:30–1:20 PM

This course is intended for speakers of Spanish to develop competence quickly in spoken and written Portuguese. In this intermediate-level course, students learn ways to apply their Spanish language skills to mastering Portuguese by concentrating on the similarities and differences between the two languages.

Additional Notes: SPAN 10300 or consent. No auditors.


*NEW* Kreyol for Speakers of French I

LACS 12220 (KREY 12200)
Gerdine Ulysse
MWF 10:30–11:20 AM

This course is intended for speakers of French, to quickly develop competence in spoken and written Kreyol (Kreyòl Ayisyen). In this introductory course, students learn ways to apply their skills in French (or another Romance language with instructor consent) to mastering Kreyol by concentrating on the similarities and differences between the two languages. Open to students with knowledge of another Romance language and instructor consent.


Introduction to Latin American Civilizations I [F]

LACS 16100/34600 (ANTH 23101; HIST 16101/36101; SOSC 26100; CRES 16101)
Emilio Kourí
MWF 1:30 – 2:20PM

May be taken in sequence or individually. This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. This course is offered every year. Autumn Quarter examines the origins of civilizations in Latin America with a focus on the political, social, and cultural features of the major pre-Columbian civilizations of the Maya, Inca, and Aztec. The quarter concludes with an analysis of the Spanish and Portuguese conquest, and the construction of colonial societies in Latin America.


Human Rights: Contemporary Issues

LACS 21001 (HIST 29304, HMRT 21001, LLSO 21001)
Susan Gzesh
MW 4:30-5:50PM

This course examines basic human rights norms and concepts and selected contemporary human rights problems from across the globe, including human rights implications of the COVID pandemic. Beginning with an overview of the present crises and significant actors on the world stage, we will then examine the political setting for the United Nations' approval of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948. The post-World War 2 period was a period of optimism and fertile ground for the establishment of a universal rights regime, given the defeat of fascism in Europe. International jurists wanted to establish a framework of rights that went beyond the nation-state, taking into consideration the partitions of India-Pakistan and Israel-Palestine - and the rising expectations of African-Americans in the U.S. and colonized peoples across Africa and Asia. But from the beginning, there were basic contradictions in a system of rights promulgated by representatives of nation-states that ruled colonial regimes, maintained de facto and de jure systems of racial discrimination, and imprisoned political dissidents and journalists.

Cross-cutting themes of the course include the universalism of human rights, problems of impunity and accountability, notions of "exceptionalism," and the emerging issue of the "shamelessness" of authoritarian regimes. Students will research a human rights topic of their choosing, to be presented as either a final research paper or a group presentation.


Music of the Caribbean

LACS 23517/33517 (MUSI 23517/33517)
Jessica Baker
TR 11:00–12:20PM

This course covers the sonic and structural characteristics, as well as the social, political, environmental, and historical contexts of Caribbean popular and folk music. These initial inquiries will give way to the investigation of a range of theoretical concepts that are particularly important to an understanding of the Caribbean and its people. Specifically, we will think through the ways in which creolization, hybridity, colonialism and postcolonialism, nationalism, and migration inform and shape music performance and consumption in the region and throughout its diaspora. In this course, participants will listen to many different styles and repertoires of music, ranging from calypso to kumina, from reggaeton to bachata, and from dancehall to zouk. We will also examine how the Caribbean and its music are imagined and engaged with globally by focusing attention on how and why music from that region has traveled, and been adopted and adapted by numerous ethnic and religious "others."


Immigration, Law and Society

LACS 25003 (SSAD 25003, PBPL 25003, CRES 25003, HMRT 25003, SOCI 28079)
Angela García
TR 3:30-4:50PM

Law is everywhere within the social world. It shapes our everyday lives in countless ways by permitting, prohibiting, protecting and prosecuting native-born citizens and immigrants alike. This course reviews the major theoretical perspectives and sociological research on the relationship between law and society, with an empirical focus on immigrants in the United States, primarily from Mexico and Central America. To begin, we explore the permeation of law in everyday life, legal consciousness, and gap between "law on the books" and "law on the ground." The topic of immigration is introduced with readings on the socio-legal construction of immigration status, theories of international migration, and U.S. immigration law at the national and subnational levels. We continue to study the social impact of law on immigrants through the topics of liminal legality; children, families, and romantic partnerships; policing, profiling, and raids; detention and deportation; and immigrants' rights. This course adopts a "law in action" approach centered on the social, political, and cultural contexts of law as it relates to immigration and social change. It is designed to expose you to how social scientists study and think about law, and to give you the analytical skills to examine law, immigration, and social change relationally.


The Amazon: Literature, Culture, Environment [F]

LACS 25005/35005 (PORT 25000/35000/ ENST 25000, SIGN 26059, SPAN 25555/35555)
Victoria Saramago
MW 3:00-4:20PM

This course proposes a cultural history of the Amazonian region. Through films, novels, visual arts, essays, manifestos, and works on cultural and environmental history, we will explore the history of Amazon from a range of perspectives. We will examine indigenous cultures and epistemologies, extractivist activities, environmental policies, contemporary literature and film, and a global imagination of the Amazon. Authors and projects may include Claudia Andujar, Gaspar de Carvajal, Milton Hatoum, Euclides da Cunha, Ciro Guerra, Susanna Hecht, Davi Kopenawa, Ailton Krenak, Chico Mendes, Daniel Munduruku, Lúcia Sá, Silvino Santos, Candance Slater, Mario Vargas Llosa, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Video in the Villages, among others.


*NEW* Archiving AIDS: Art, Literature, Theory

LACS 25662 (CMLT 25662, CRES 25662, GNSE 20105)
Kris Trujillo
TR 9:30–10:50AM

The AIDS pandemic had a major impact on cultural production of the 1980s and the 1990s. But its effects did not end with the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in 1995. This course will examine the AIDS archive in its broadest sense-including art, literature, and theory produced in direct and indirect response to the pandemic from the 1980s to the present. What was the role of cultural production in political activism? What kinds of narratives did the allegorization of AIDS make possible and normalize? How has the AIDS pandemic been remembered and memorialized in more contemporary art and literature? Drawing from U.S., Latin American, and European texts, we will explore how AIDS has impacted sociopolitical issues related to sexuality, gender, class, and race.


Witches, Sinners, and Saints

LACS 26212/36212 (SPAN 26210/36210/ GNSE 26210/36210, CRES 26220/36220)
Larissa Brewer-García
TR 11:00-12:20PM

This course examines representations of women's bodies and sexualities in colonial Latin American writings. In doing so, we will study the body through a variety of lenses: the anatomical body as a site of construction of sexual difference, the witch's body as a site of sexual excess, the mystic's body as a double of the possessed body, the tortured body as a site of knowledge production, and the racialized bodies of New World women as sites to govern sexuality, spirituality, labor, and property in the reaches of the Spanish Empire.


Art and the Archive in Greater Latin America

LACS 26384 (HIST 26319, ARTH 26384, ARTV 20017)
Diana Schwartz-Francisco
TR 11:00-12:20PM

How and why do artists engage records of the past in their work? What are the politics of both creating archives and culling from them to visually render or represent the past? Focusing on artists, art-making, and archives in Greater Latin America (including the United States), this course will consider the process of collecting and creating in artistic production from the perspectives of both theory and practice. Students in the course will work directly with archival materials in Chicago and collaborate on contemporary artistic projects that consider issues of relevance to people and places of the Western Hemisphere.


Law and Citizenship in Latin America [F]

LACS 26509/36509 (HIST 26509/36509, LLSO 26509)
Brodwyn Fischer
T 2:00-4:50PM

This course will examine law and citizenship in Latin America from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries. We will explore the development of Latin American legal systems in both theory and practice, examine the ways in which the operation of these systems has shaped the nature of citizenship in the region, discuss the relationship between legal and other inequalities, and analyze some of the ways in which legal documents and practices have been studied by scholars in order to gain insight into questions of culture, nationalism, family, violence, gender, and race.


*NEW*  Making States and Nations: Art and Material Culture in Latin America, ca. 1808–1880

LACS 27724/37724 (ARTH 27724/37724)
Natalia Majluf
F 1:30-4:20PM

Covering the wars of Independence and the transition to Republican statehood, this course will address the continuities and ruptures affecting the visual traditions and material cultures of the Colonial period in this crucial period in Latin American history. Intended as a broad survey of the region, the course attempts to think through a political history of objects and images as a way to understand the process of nation-state formation.


Women, Development, and Politics

LACS 28498 (PBPL 28498, GNSE 28498)
Maria Bautista, Maliha Chishti
R 11:00-1:50PM

This course will explore the dominant and emerging trends and debates in the field of women and international development. The major theoretical perspectives responding to global gender inequities will be explored alongside a wide range of themes impacting majority-world women, such as free market globalization, health and sexuality, race and representation, participatory development, human rights, the environment and participation in politics. Course lectures will integrate policy and practitioner accounts and perspectives to reflect the strong influence development practice has in shaping and informing the field. Course materials will also include anti-racist, postcolonial and post-development interruptions to dominant development discourse, specifically to challenge the underlying biases and assumptions of interventions that are predicated on transforming "them" into "us". The material will also explore the challenges of women participating in politics and what are the consequences when they do or do not.



LACS 29202 (HIST 29202)
Dain Borges
MW 1:30–2:50PM

A panorama of Cuban reforms and revolutions, centering on evaluation of the Cuban Revolution of 1959.


Reading/Research: Latin American Studies

LACS 29700

Students and instructors can arrange a Reading and Research course in Latin American Studies when the material being studied goes beyond the scope of a particular course, when students are working on material not covered in an existing course or when students would like to receive academic credit for independent research.

PQ: Consent of faculty adviser required.


BA Colloquium: Latin American Studies

LACS 29801
Diana Schwartz Francisco
F 9:30-12:20PM

This colloquium, which is led by the preceptor and BA adviser, assists students in formulating approaches to the BA essay and developing their research and writing skills, while providing a forum for group discussion and critiques. Graduating students present their BA essays in a public session of the colloquium during the Spring Quarter.

PQ: Must be a 4th year major in Latin American Studies to enroll.

Note: Students enrolled in this course will be able to complete all requirements of this course remotely. In-person elements of this course will be optional.


Prep BA Essay: Latin American Studies

LACS 29900

Independent BA thesis course.
PQ: Consent of undergraduate thesis/project adviser required.


Reading/Research: Latin American Studies

LACS 40100

Students and instructors can arrange a Reading and Research course in Latin American Studies when the material being studied goes beyond the scope of a particular course, when students are working on material not covered in an existing course or when students would like to receive academic credit for independent research.

PQ: Consent of faculty adviser required.


Political Regimes and Transitions

LACS 41203 (PLSC 41203)
Michael Albertus
W 1:30–4:20PM

Despite a shift toward democracy in much of the world, many states have remained solidly autocratic while others are plagued by political instability. This graduate seminar will introduce students to fundamental questions in the study of political regimes: What distinguishes democracy from dictatorship? How does the functioning of democratic institutions affect democratic survival? Why are some dictatorships more stable than others, and what role do institutions such as legislatures, parties, and elections play in their stability? What political and economic factors explain regime transitions, and why do transitions tend to cluster both spatially and temporally? The course will examine how these questions are addressed in current scholarship, with an emphasis on enabling students to design research projects that contribute to our understanding of how political regimes function, persist, and change.


Crime, Conflict and the State

LACS 48700  (PLSC 48700, PPHA 37105)
Benjamin Lessing
W 9:30–12:20PM

Scholars of civil war emphasize the importance, and perhaps primacy, of criminal profits for insurgencies, especially in the post-cold war era. But theories of civil war generally rest on an assumption that insurgents aim to replace state power. This seminar approaches the issue from the other end of the spectrum: armed conflict between states and "purely" criminal groups--particularly drug cartels. Cartel-state conflict poses a fundamental puzzle: Why attack the state if you seek neither to topple nor secede from it? After a brief survey of the literature on civil war and organized crime, we will study recent work on criminal conflict, particularly in Latin America. We also consider the related topics of prison-based criminal networks and paramilitaries, and explore how crime and political insurgency interact in places like West Africa and Afghanistan. Throughout, we evaluate the concepts, questions and designs underpinning current research.


Colloquium: Latin American Historiography, 19th–21st Century

LACS 60000 (HIST 60000)
Mauricio Tenorio
M 8:30–11:20AM

Review of recent trends in the history of the regions. Weekly reviews.